I'm always on
the lookout for some new "hotspot" for
photographing birds. My friends and co-workers know
this, and at least once a week, someone calls to
say they have spotted a particular species
somewhere within my home state of Oklahoma.
Sometimes the networking pays off, but more often
it does not pan out. Also, I have "regular" spots
that consistently prove successful. The best spot
by far is less than 50 feet from my back door.
That's right, my own backyard.
Over 20% of my stock images come from my backyard,
which is a two-acre natural bird sanctuary. Located
on the edge of suburbia in central Oklahoma, I have
created this avian Mecca through placement of
carefully selected shrubs, trees, and cover
vegetation. I conducted research to ascertain what
sort of botanical plants and trees local birds
prefer, both as a source of food, and for nesting.
In addition, I have a broad assortment of feeders,
nest boxes, and birdbaths. Multiple feeders filled
with a variety of seeds, nuts, and grain, increases
the number of species able to feed concurrently.
Larger birds are less likely to scare away small
songbirds if there is room for all.
It is important to note: Bird species vary with the
seasons, so some planning is necessary to ensure
that I am prepared for migratory birds as they pass
to and from their summer or winter grounds. Your
state wildlife department can provide information
on bird numbers and migration patterns. Granted, my
backyard is large, but with research and planning,
you can create a similar setup, even if you live in
the city. Many avian city residents are accustomed
to people, making them more approachable and easier
to photograph. The key is knowledge and
The Cedar Waxwing image was taken in early May, as
large migratory flocks passed through my yard. They
love perching in my willow trees, where they can
hide from predators. If I am lucky, they stay for
as long as 2-3 days. I captured this image on an
overcast day with a Nikon F5, 600f4 w/1.4x. The
light was poor, so my shutter speed was a slow
1/40. I was lucky there was no wind.
The Eastern Bluebird male is on his standard
lookout perch. The perch is located less than 20
feet from a nest box containing the female and five
babies. I intentionally waited until late afternoon
to make this image, when the spot was in open
shade. The Bluebird's feathers, when viewed or
photographed from certain angles in subdued light,
appear almost iridescent, but they lose this
quality in direct sunlight.
Both images were taken on Fuji Provia F
professional slide film.
If you want to find the best place to enjoy
both watching and photographing birds, you need
look no further than your own
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